Post Holes And Stories From Home
Summer of `70
There wasn’t much happening in Houghton Lake, so I didn’t even try to find work. On weekends, I would drink beer and smoke dope with friends and, occasionally, I would spend time with Carol Sue, a girl I went to school with. She lived a in a duplex a few miles from my parent’s place. Her sugar daddy, who owned the place, was in real estate and lived in Virginia. Anytime I needed a place to go, Carol Sue was always there and, more importantly, there was no chance of our relationship getting too lovey-dovey. I liked that, and Carol Sue couldn’t afford to have it any other way.
As it turned out, my friendship with Carol Sue led to a job. Two of
her brothers had a fence installing business in Lansing. When the
ground thawed, they hired me. I rented a room in East Lansing, a
half-mile from MSU. I took the attic room. The two bedrooms on the top floor went to two girls, and the bedrooms for the two male art students were on the ground floor. The other student lived in the basement. For me, living co-ed was fun, but digging post holes in clay wasn’t. I worked all summer long, only taking a couple days off.
While I was in Lansing, a couple interesting things happened. Up
along the university, I spied, running around the shrubbery of one
of the buildings, a beautiful red fox. I didn’t believe my eyes; the
fox tried to hide, but after more than an hour of chasing it, I was
able to get close enough to actually grab it. The fox struggled, but
it didn’t bite, well it didn’t break the skin. I carried it back to
my house. My roommates were amazed; they wanted to know what I was going to do with a fox. I said, “Keep it and try and find its owner.”
The next day I called pet shops, and MSU to find out if a fox had
escaped from a lab. Nobody knew anything. One pet shop owner was a bit concerned; foxes were known carriers of rabies. I kept the fox for another day, hoping it would start to act like a pet, but it didn’t. Cleaning up poop from a wild animal wasn’t fun. The smell
didn’t make my roommates very happy, either.
I’ve always loved foxes. I guess it goes back to my very favorite
children book, Slip the Fox. The book was a collection of
beautifully illustrated stories about a cagey fox outsmarting hound
dogs. My fox was just as beautiful. I took it down to the front
porch and, just before dark, I let it go. It took more than a week
before the smell left the house, though.
Also, while in Lansing, I was glad to let an old friend,
who was down on his luck, crash in my room. Back when I was a teenager in Houghton Lake, Nick, a handsome Greek Canadian, was a stable part of the summer bar band scene for more than five years. He was a bass and fiddle player. When he played his summer gigs, he rented my parent’s cabin and became more of a big brother to me than my own brother. My parent’s adored him. They used to take me to see him perform (for the most part my mother bar-tended in the same bars where he played).
Nick always had good Canadian beer on hand. When he arrived from Canada in the spring, he hauled behind his red ford convertible a u-haul full of beer. In his cabin, he stacked the cases from floor to ceiling. He let me listen to his music (my introduction to jazz) and drink his beer. As long as I didn’t get him in trouble he told me it was okay. I was very careful not to abuse that privilege. In retrospect, back then, Nick was my best friend.